VOLKSWAGEN’s Touareg has been a around for a while now, some 19 years in fact, which is crazy, but in reality, it’s been massively popular during that time. The latest generation has been on sale since 2018, but has only just landed on our shores.
The Touareg has had a facelift inside and out, with lots of new technology, new engines and most importantly, refinement. Volkswagen hasn’t skimped on the standard kit at any level either, let alone on the range topping 210TDI R-Line.
There is a V8 version coming (which is already sold out) that shares the same diesel V8 as the Bentley Bentayga, but it isn’t here yet, so the R-Line is top dog for now. But we’re not just testing the range topper, we have the entry level 170TDI as well.
The 170TDI is packed with goodies such as keyless entry and start, wireless phone charging, front seat heating, leather seats, parking sensors, dual-zone climate, adaptive cruise and a powered tailgate. And then there’s safety gear, but we’ll get to that later.
Stepping up to the 210TDI R-Line adds IQ.Light matrix LED headlights and the Innovision package, with a 15.0-inch central touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. It also adds air suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels, and all wheel steering.
There’s also premium LED tail lights with scrolling indicators and Savona leather appointed seat upholstery, complete with the R-Line logo. It also brings electromechanical active roll stabilisation, and a unique R-Line body kit.
The list goes on, as there’s R-Line front seats with adjustable bolstering, a powered steering column, stainless steel pedals, a heated R-Line steering wheel, and black interior headlining.
Our test 210TDI R-Line was fitted with the Sound and Comfort package, a $6,500 option, adding a surround view camera, Dynaudio premium sound, 4-zone climate, front memory seats, heated rear seats, parking assist plus and reverse autonomous emergency braking.
We reckon some of these features really should be standard. Sure, the sound system is worth paying more for, but reverse AEB feels like it should be fitted to your flagship SUV straight out of the box.
The standard forward autonomous emergency braking features pedestrian and cyclist detection. Should it detect one of these, it’ll apply the brakes at speeds between 5 and 85km/h. Vehicle detection and braking works at speeds from 10 to 250km/h.
Now before we go any further, we need to talk about the infotainment system and well, the screens in the Touareg. Standard across the range is the new Innovision cockpit, and it is a nerd’s wet dream!
Even as a tech-savvy gen X’er, the sheer amount of real estate is slightly overwhelming. Come to think of it, it almost feels like you’re sitting in a Boeing cockpit, getting ready to take off from Sydney airport.
The screens and information they display are hugely customisable, meaning you can set everything up just the way you like it. In saying that, for those less tech-savvy customers, this system is going to be very daunting.
The updated cabin design is refined and blends plenty of gloss black plastic with patterned ambient lighting to make the Touareg feel more like a bespoke luxury car than anything else in the range.
Given it shares its existence with the Bentley Bentayga, the Audi Q, the Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus, it’s not surprising. Beyond the tech, the Touareg’s cabin is fundamentally excellent.
For starters, everything you touch feels high quality. The seats are trimmed in supple leather, and even the plastics feel expensive. The new steering wheel in the R-Line looks sporty and is nice under hand, but it’s a magnet for fingerprints.
Its haptic feedback lacks the tactility of proper switches. It’s far too easy to make the volume go up. The driving position though is bang on perfect, and the R-Line armchairs feel like they’d carry you to the end of the earth and back without a numb bum.
The fact that they have a massaging function, are heated and cooled, may have something to do with it. But even the seats in the 170TDI feel damn good, so don’t be put off by the base model either.
A new 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 that meets the latest Euro 6 emissions standards powers both variants, with each one tuned slightly differently. The 170TDI offers a healthy 170kW and 500Nm, whilst the 210TDI R-Line peaks it’s performance at 210kW and 600Nm.
Both engines are mated to a clever 8-speed transmission. Volkswagen claims fuel economy of 6.8-litres/100km. We saw 7.9-litres. It’s worth noting that the same engine is fitted to the related Audi Q7, but with 48V mild-hybrid technology.
The Touareg also scores a long range 90-litre fuel tank, that will see you (if driven sensibly) have a cruising range more in keeping with that Boeing, than the average car. That’s about 1300-1500kms to empty, which is mighty impressive.
Whether it be the 170TDI or the 210TDI, both are effortless to drive almost all the time. Put your foot down in Normal or Comfort mode and the Touareg picks up off the mark pretty well. It takes a bit to go hard, but once there, it’s eager to push forwards.
In Sport mode, everything is dialled up to 11, making for an exciting drive. In its 210TDI R-Line form the Touareg rides on air suspension capable of raising or lowering the body, and stiffening or loosening the ride based on drive mode.
Come to a complete stop, and it will lower the body closer to the ground, allowing you to get out easier. Unfortunately the 170TDI misses out, but it’s worth the extra to step up to the 210TDI range as ride quality is excellent.
The 2021 Volkswagen 170TDI starts at $89,781 (drive away), while the 210TDI R-Line comes in at a whopping $118,656 (drive away). Add any extras to either, and you will quickly make those numbers climb.
All variants of the Touareg are available in six colours, including Pure White, Antimonial Silver Metallic, Aquamarine Blue Metallic, Malbec Red Metallic, Silicon Grey Metallic and Deep Black Pearl.
There’s no doubt the third generation Volskwagen Touareg is a brilliant piece of machinery. Sure there are some quirky things, and the price tag is a bit step, but overall it is worth it.
It feels every bit a premium rival for it’s competitors, like the Audi Q7 and BMW X5. It offers more kit and additional power, as well as similar if not better refinement.
We cannot wait to see what the 310kW 900Nm 4.0-litre V8 diesel monster has to offer when it lands.
Our test vehicles were provided by Volkswagen Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Volkswagen Touareg 170TDI and 210TDI R-Line, contact your local Volkswagen dealer.